While it doesn’t take a tonne of research to learn that regular cardio activity of any kind is a good method of losing weight, it’s natural to wonder where your time will be best spent. Nowadays, there are almost endless options for your cardio workout, and not all of them will be right for everyone. Walking into your average gym, you’ll likely be bombarded with a variety of choices, including treadmills, spin bikes, rowing machines, weights and many more. So, you might wonder whether an elliptical cross trainer is anything particularly special against all the other options at your disposal, and whether you should invest in one for your home gym. Here we’ll go through some of the weight loss benefits of cross trainers and why they are so effective at burning calories.
What is a cross trainer?
Cross trainers are exercise machines with a flywheel that is set in rotation by the movement of the user's arms and legs. It’s called a cross trainer because of its incorporation of both parts of the body. They can come in a few different forms, such as rear drive, front drive or hybrid forms. What’s special about them is the fact that the feet and hands stay in contact with the machine throughout the exercise, meaning the impact is taken out of the equation. This makes them easier on the joints, as well as reducing muscle tension and inflammation. It’s for this reason that they are often used by trainers who are in recovery or experiencing muscle pains/tension.
Before we evaluate the weight loss benefits of a cross trainer, it’s always good to go through a refresher for how weight loss occurs and the best methods of achieving it. Losing weight is mainly about burning fat, which is achieved by using up more stored energy than you're taking in in calories. So, while diet is an important factor, we want to make sure we are maximising our calorie burn to achieve the best results. There are many factors that can play into how much energy we’re burning in an exercise. This includes: intensity, duration, type of exercise, and the muscles being worked. It’s true that pretty much any type of workout will use up stored energy and likely burn a good number of calories, but we want to know about how to make our weight loss workout more efficient and effective. And this is where cross trainers come in.
Why cross trainers are so good for weight loss
While it may seem simple at first, the compound effect of utilising both the upper and lower part of the body in an elliptical workout creates some impressive results. The simultaneous motion of the arms and legs works so many major muscle groups at once, getting your entire body working. This multiplies the amount of energy you're expending by a surprising amount, and accelerates your heart rate in a way that may be more difficult on something like a spin bike or a treadmill. Remember that because there is very little impact, it’s easier to accelerate the intensity of your elliptical workout, thereby achieving greater results. Ellipticals are also self-paced, meaning you have a bit more control over your workout than you would on a standard treadmill.
Incline for Weight Loss
Adjustable incline is a common feature on front drive elliptical models, allowing the user to easily increase the slope at which they’re moving. We’ve covered before how incline is a useful feature for treadmills, but on cross trainers they offer a unique way to engage a greater number of muscles, increase difficulty and burning more calories. In short, they allow you to further maximise your energy expenditure and yield better results.
Another feature that will be important in your weight loss workout regime is the resistance of your machine. Depending on the machine, resistance can be adjusted in one of two ways. There’s mechanical resistance, which is controlled using a twist dial on the machine, or there’s variable automatic resistance, or VAR, which allows you to alter resistance on a touch screen. VAR uses a high-quality motor to allow for quick, smooth changes on the fly. This makes interval training and varied workouts easier, allowing the user to switch between a low impact or high intensity cardio session. With an elliptical, it’s all about the resistance, and it’s essential to figure out what resistance level will be right for you. This will naturally change as you progress as you increase in ability. If you want consistent results in your workout, keep stock of what resistance level feels best for you while still making you work, and increase the level as needed. Choosing a machine with higher resistance levels available will ensure you can progress to those greater intensity workouts, especially if you’re looking at high intensity interval training (HIIT). Our cross trainers come with resistance levels ranging from 8 levels up to 24 levels on our larger front drive models.
Ellipticals with VAR will come with the pre-programmed workouts that will guide you through a specific exercise program, with automatic adjustments in resistance throughout. These are highly useful for beginners who may need some guidance in how best to utilise their machine. Advanced users will also enjoy the ability to nail down a set routine for consistent results. This will be essential for those looking for weight loss benefits, as a steady routine will yield the best benefits. Workout programs allow you to fine tune your workout, such as using lower resistance levels for warm ups, then gradually increase throughout the elliptical exercise, and lowering for a cool down. They’re also effective for your HIIT workout, allowing you to easily switch between high and low levels of resistance automatically. It’s always good to look out for a machine with programs, especially for beginners.
An elliptical cross trainer is one of the best ways to burn calories and lose weight, typically burning more calories as opposed to other cardio equipment such as an exercise bike. By recruiting more muscles, you will easily achieve a full body fat burn workout, with the freedom to increase your pace, intensity, resistance and incline. An elliptical relies on you to generate the pace and speed of the workout, so the number of calories you burn each session depends on the intensity of your workout.